YAF cancels original event, plans others
"We are altering our plans, not stopping them," said Kyle Bristow, the group's chairman. "We feel that if we were to do it differently, it would be more efficient to get our message across. Instead of doing our 'Catch an Illegal Immigrant' game on one day, we are hoping to do a few different events throughout a week."
MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and some campus organizations condemned the event. Members of the Residence Halls Association, or RHA, passed a bill to publicly express their disagreement with the game and began planning ways to protest the event during Wednesday's meeting.
Joanna Varnavas, a professional writing senior and lobbyist for Young Americans for Freedom, or YAF, said the YAF executive board made the decision together.
"Although the group may have very strong feelings on the issue, there is a question of respect," Varnavas said. "We are a student-organized group, and there is no excuse for not having respect. The information about illegal aliens will still be going on, and that's what is important."
There are about 30 active members in YAF, Bristow said.
Various student organizations, including Culturas de las Razas Unidas and the Student Association of Non-Violent Resisters, held a press conference Monday at the Union denouncing YAF's event. Some student groups distributed fliers that depicted a lynching, with text saying, "Does this look like a game?"
The public's negative reaction to the event did not have anything to do with YAF's decision, Bristow said.
"The press conference didn't do it. President Simon writing up her letter didn't do it. The fliers being distributed didn't do it. The invite to the rock (on Farm Lane) didn't do it.
"We are not deterred by any outside influences at all."
Michelle Dickinson, RHA's director of public relations and advertising, said the organization wants to work toward acceptance of every student.
"RHA is here to promote all students, and 'Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day' is discriminatory toward immigrants," Dickinson said. "We're always trying to represent students, and we felt like the best way to do it was passing the bill."
RHA members said they decided to oppose YAF's statements, Dickinson said.
"It is their right to do so," she said. "I can't tell people what to do or tell an organization how to promote their beliefs. RHA can't agree with anything discriminatory in nature."
RHA plans to discuss YAF's newest events and develop a response to them when more information is available, Dickinson said.
Shannon Scott, RHA's director of racial, ethnic and progressive affairs, led the discussion of the event prior to its cancellation. The group discussed creating T-shirts and holding its own event in an attempt to counteract YAF's event.
"The T-shirts would be for students to show their support for tolerance and inclusiveness on campus," Scott said. "They would say something like, 'no human being is illegal.'"
YAF's new plans need to be done tastefully she said.
"If it is a balanced educational program discussing every side of the issue, then it will be beneficial to the students," Scott said. "If it is not balanced, then it is not an educational forum. All sides of the issue need to be addressed."
YAF plans to have more events such as chalking, guest speakers, poster-hanging and possibly a debate.